Child Adjustment in Joint-Custody Versus Sole-Custody Arrangements: A Meta-Analytic Review

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Author Abstract: The author meta-analyzed studies comparing child adjustment in joint physical or joint legal custody with sole-custody settings, including comparisons with paternal custody and intact families where possible. Children in joint physical or legal custody were better adjusted than children in sole-custody settings, but no different from those in intact families. More positive adjustment of joint-custody children held for separate comparisons of general adjustment, family relationships, self-esteem, emotional and behavioral adjustment, and divorce-specific adjustment. Joint-custody parents reported less current and past conflict than did sole-custody parents, but this did not explain the better adjustment of joint-custody children. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that joint custody can be advantageous for children in some cases, possibly by facilitating ongoing positive involvement with both parents.